This just in from ConAgra, who illustrate that no detail is too small to consider, especially when you’re producing food on a large scale:
Plant leaders worked with Quality Assurance to determine that excess flour used to prevent dough from sticking to rollers could be repurposed. The new process will save 96.2 tons of safe flour from heading to a landfill annually.
In 5 or 10 years, the answers on how technology will help avoid food waste will seem obvious (and I have a sense that tech will be implicit in all future waste reduction). But for now there are only guesses. What’s yours?
April 4, 2012 | Posted in Technology|Comments closed
I recently spoke to an engaged food studies class at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC). The course, known as Eats 101, is an honors seminar on food and culture in the program in Food, Agriculture and Sustainable Development.
After talking about food waste for a bit, I asked the students for their ideas on reducing waste. Since their answers were so sharp and this was at a public university, I thought it only fair to share their ideas. Here are some highlights, organized by subject area and without editorial comment from yours truly.
Form better relationships with more people to sell directly to them
Create a local need database to link farmers with the needy. (This sort of exists with Ample Harvest)
Rebuff Farm Lobby so US Ag policy doesn’t only focus on commodity crops
Improve irrigation technology (minimizing the impact of food waste)
Avoid visible “sell-by” dates to minimize confusion with “use-by” dates.
Reduced prices for imperfect goods and items near their “sell-by” date
Institute a reward system for buying these goods
Move away from the idea that a store can never run out of anything
Cut down on choices/# of items
Serve fewer menu items and aim to use similar foods in apps and mains
Be seasonal and local (to avoid shipment and kitchen shelf loss)
Offer choice of small, medium and large portions
Don’t be afraid to run out of food–it seems more exclusive!
Market food waste reduction efforts
Give discount for bringing own leftover container
Plan meals ahead and make a shopping list
Use the entire animal, whenever possible
Hold neighborhood leftover potlucks–other people aren’t sick of your leftovers!
Create neighborhood listserv for sharing excess food/ingredients
Write a recipe book for creative reuse of foods
Redistribute on the run–make two sandwiches in the morning and give one to someone in need.
April 2, 2012 | Posted in College|Comments closed
With Earth Day fast approaching, the good people at Bi-Rite Market have issued a challenge. A Food Waste Challenge.
Here’s how it works: Leave a comment on the Bi-Rite blog post on the food that you or your community often wastes. Then, the San Fran retailer will identify foods that are often wasted.
Bi-Rite will then strive to help people trim waste of these “target foods” by distributing recipes–in store and hopefully online–for using these foods up. It’s a neat example of a grocer helping its customers curb waste.
So now’s your chance: Tell the gastronomic gurus at Bi-Rite what you have a hard time using up and they’ll provide some handy ideas.
HT: I heard about the challenge from this handy Kitchn post on the topic, which features it’s own useful top 5 list on using up food often discarded.
I just spent three days at the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, where I met people from all corners of the globe and talked trash (or food waste) with them.
I was at FAO to collaborate with researchers in an ongoing project to create a global food waste footprint. As you might imagine, cataloguing all the ways food waste impacts our environment won’t be easy. There are the familiar impacts like energy use and methane creation, but also some less discussed ones like biodiversity and water impacts.
The main reason for the trip was a series of meetings to hash out how to calculate the actual food waste footprint. The research team met with FAO researchers in various fields in an effort to consider food waste from every angle. I was there partly to help think through these questions, but also as the person who will be involved in future writings for this project.
Some interesting questions arose:
-Should the resources used to create packaging of food ultimately wasted be included?
-Can we capture the small amount of positive end-of-life outcomes for waste like food recovery, composting and anaerobic digestion?
-What do we do when there isn’t available data for a certain crop or country?
-What do we even call this stuff? To be inclusive of all food not consumed, there’s food waste and food loss. Is there a term for both? Can we use them synonymously? Or do we have to use the unwieldy food loss/waste every turn?
In the coming months, we’ll create answers for these questions and work toward a finished product so that one of these days policy makers, policy wonks, journalists and all in between will be able to say: Food waste’s impact is THIS big!